With one junior, two sophomores and a freshman running on the West Liberty-Salem Tigers’ 3,200 relay team the future looks strong. The present is looking pretty good, too.
West Liberty-Salem’s foursome of Megan Adams, Grace Adams, Madison Bahan and Katelyn Stapleton won the Division III district title at Piqua High School on Tuesday afternoon in school-record time. The Tigers finished in 9 minutes, 36.34 seconds to advance to next week’s D-III regional meet.
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The Tigers topped a field of 11 teams from wire-to-wire and finished well ahead of runner-up Russia’s 10:05.27.
“We were definitely trying to do better than last year and maybe get our school record again,” said freshman Megan Adams, the lone newcomer to the team from last season. “There’s a little bit of pressure but I think we handled it well.”
The Tigers finished third at the district meet last season in 10:04.43. They blistered that pace starting with Megan Adams’ opening leg and hand off to sister and junior Grace Adams. Bahan ran the third leg and Stapleton, both sophomores, anchored the victory.
“It’s really nice (to lower the record),” Bahan said. “We’re just working at every meet to do the best we can and always get that record.”
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The Tigers’ biggest challenge likely comes at next week’s regional meet. That’s where West Liberty-Salem will run into defending state champion Minster. The Wildcats won state in 9:18.41, but two of those members are gone from last season.
“We’ll see what we’ve got and give it our best shot,” girls track and cross country coach Ann Vogel said. “It’s a great rivalry and obviously Minster is the cream of the crop. They are coached so well and we have the utmost respect for their program. Whatever happens with them we’ll give it our best shot. We’re going to push it. We want to beat them but we know they’re good.”
The Tigers and Wildcats also ran into each other at the D-III state cross country meet. Minster won state and West Liberty-Salem finished fourth. The Adams sisters, Bahan and Stapleton all ran on the cross country team.
“I think it’s just the community,” Grace Adams said of the Big Orange’s distance tradition. “West Liberty is kind of a running community. We have great coaches with coach Vogel, (boys cross country) coach (Mike) Louden and (boys track) coach (Joe) Taylor. That really helps.”
The Tigers’ goal now – in addition to qualifying for state – is to lower that school record again. They’re hoping to run in the lower 9:30s.
“These four are super close-knit,” Vogel said. “If they’re not a practice they’re running together on their own. The camaraderie with this team … they aren’t afraid to expect a lot from each other. In return I think that’s why they do so well. There’s no slacking with these four. They push each other.”
And, hopefully, they’ll give the Minster Wildcats a run this season … if not next year, too.
“It’s an honor to run with these girls,” Stapleton said. “We’ll be back next year, too. But we still have this season to fill out and it’s exciting.”
In other area highlights from Tuesday:
* West Liberty-Salem’s boys 3,200 team of Jack Eggleston, Isaac Brown, Noah Smith and Gavin Harrison finished third to qualify for regional.
* Mechanicsburg senior Joey Mascadri and West Liberty-Salem senior Konner Smith finishsed third and fourth, respectively, to advance in the pole vault.
* Northeastern senior Max Queen and Emmanual Christian Academy freshman Justus Channels finished third and fourth in the long jump to move on.
* Northeastern freshman Gianna Cameron finished fourth in the high jump to qualify for regionals.